Highest Court in Europe Asked to Decide on ACTA
The highest court in the European Union has been asked to determine if the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is legal. The move comes as country after country has stopped ratification of the controversial anti-piracy treaty.
ACTA has been labeled by some as a “global SOPA,” an international version of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act which flamed out after the Internet community rallied in opposition to the bill.
Karel De Gucht, the EU’s head of trade, said the European Court of Justice will be asked to check whether or not ACTA violates Europe’s “fundamental rights and freedoms,” according to the BBC.
“We need to find new, more modern and more effective ways in Europe to protect artistic creations that take account of technological developments and the freedoms of the internet,” said De Gucht.
If ACTA were passed, it would create a new, uniform way for countries that sign the treaty to cooperate on counterfeiting and intellectual property investigations.
Those in favor of ACTA say that creating a single code of law among participating countries will make those criminal investigations easier.
However, free speech organizations have claimed that ACTA would stifle online free speech and technological innovation worldwide. ACTA has also been criticized for largely secretive negotiations and for operating outside international bodies such as the United Nations or World Trade Organization.
The treaty has been signed by the European Union and 22 member states, but the ratification process has ground to a halt in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands, among other countries. Anti-ACTA protests have broken out in cities across the continent.
Outside of Europe, signatories include the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. Thus far, no country has ratified the treaty. [mashable]